Special Commentary: COVID-19 and the Ethics of Military Readiness   [open pdf - 183KB]

From the Introduction: "As is well known, then acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly fired Captain Brett Crozier, captain of the aircraft carrier USS [United States Ship] 'Theodore Roosevelt', after he wrote a letter arguing that all but ten percent of the crew should disembark the ship to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] virus. Doing so, he acknowledged, would diminish the carrier's readiness and slow its response time in a crisis. Justifying that decision, however, he argued, 'We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset -- our Sailors.' The problem for the captain, of course, was not the content of the letter as much as it was the subsequent leak to the 'San Francisco Chronicle.' Setting aside the fiasco that resulted in his firing, and led to Modly's sudden resignation, the captain raises some important concerns regarding what the risks sailors, soldiers, airmen, and marines should be required to take in peacetime. [...] Of course, even in war no one should die unnecessarily; however, the captain raises a good question: 'what risks are necessary in peacetime?' To answer that question it is first important to understand what risks are necessary in wartime."

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Strategic Studies Institute: https://ssi.armywarcollege.edu/
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